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UK economy stalls, as Bank of England eyes rate cut

13 January 2020, MVT 21:23
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 16, 2019 Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England speaks during a Financial Stability Report press conference at the Bank of England. - Central banks may not be able to fight off a sharp economic downturn because their monetary policy arsenals are still depleted following the global financial crisis, outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned on January 8, 2020. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP)
13 January 2020, MVT 21:23

Britain's economy has stalled, official data showed Monday, as Brexit and political uncertainty contributed to slashing manufacturing output, heaping pressure on the Bank of England to cut interest rates.

Gross domestic product contracted 0.3 percent in November, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement. It grew only 0.1 percent in the three months to the end of November, the ONS added.

Manufacturing meanwhile slumped 1.7 percent in November.

Speaking ahead of the data a Bank of England policymaker, Gertjan Vlieghe, hinted at a potential vote in favour of a January cut to the BoE's main interest rate, weighing on the pound Monday.It followed comments Friday by fellow policymaker Silvana Tenreyro, who said she could support a rate cut from the current 0.75-percent level, if the economy did not strengthen.

And on Thursday, the bank's outgoing governor, Mark Carney, said the monetary policy committee was looking at the merits of near-term stimulus.

As for the latest GDP data, "a poor performance in November was always on the cards given that the uncertainties facing the economy were at a peak with the general election looming and doubts over what would happen on the Brexit front after it had been delayed again from 31 October", noted Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to financial researchers EY ITEM Club

"It is clear that businesses were cautious in their behaviour while it also appears that consumers were reluctant to spend."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives convincingly won a general election in December that has broken the deadlock over the UK's departure from the European Union.

Britain's parliament last week finally approved Brexit, ending years of arguments that toppled two UK governments.

"We expect the economy to get a lift in the early months of 2020 from a more settled domestic political environment following the Conservatives substantial win... and an easing of near-term Brexit uncertainties as the UK leaves the EU with Johnson’s deal on 31 January," said Archer.

London, United Kingdom | AFP

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